When choosing a warehouse software package, or a ‘Warehouse Management System’ (WMS), it’s important to find out whether the software also takes into account walking path optimisation. The less walking your employees need to do in the warehouse, the more efficiently they can work. In the end, this also contributes to employee satisfaction!
Walking 25 km per day
There are warehouses where employees walk 25 km per day, sometimes even more. For full-time employees, it’s a challenge to keep up that pace day in and day out. This makes it extremely important to design walking paths as efficiently as possible and to reduce the distance! You can imagine that efficient walking paths also save a lot of money. Optimising walking paths can be done in different ways. Below you will find a list of possibilities after which we will explain each one individually.
- Reduce the distance between the picks
- Deploy Pick-to-Light
- Get more picks in 1 run, and sort, with Put-to-Light
- Move slow movers to a different location (up-plenish)
- Get the right mix of fixed pick locations and flexible locations
- Use E-check add-on products
- Separate the warehouse into picking zones
- Deploy ‘Relay Picking’
1. Reduce the distance between the picks
By reducing the distance between individual picks, an employee will eventually need to walk less. You can achieve this, for example, by working with smaller pick locations or by placing the product in several locations in the warehouse.
2. Use Pick-to-Light
With a Pick-to-Light system, it’s also possible to reduce walking distances. This is particularly beneficial for smaller products; you can then easily pick bulk orders in one Pick-to-Light system with minimal walking distances. The name of the system probably already tells you how it works; the Pick-to-Light system ensures that a lamp illuminates at the location of the product to be picked. It’s the employee’s task to pick the product by the illuminated light and then to switch that light off.
The picture shows a Pick-to-Light system developed and built by Montapacking. These Pick-to-Light racks are also available for MontaWMS customers.
3. Get more picks in one run, and sort, using Put-to-Light
By using bulk picking you can make several picks in one run. This facilitates multiline orders (one order with several items), and then the picked orders can be sorted again correctly using a Put-to-Light system. This is a very effective way of order picking.
See the example of the hand scanner, where you have enabled the pick flow ‘PUTL M’ (put-to-light, multiline orders).
4. Move slow movers to a different location (up-plenish)
Is there no activity at a stock location for more than 90 days? In this case, the location with the items will be marked as a slow-mover product. An automatic recommendation will then be made to move these items to a higher/not manually accessible location, so that these items do not obstruct your pick path.
5. Get the right mix of fixed pick locations and flexible locations
It is advisable to place the same articles at different locations in the warehouse. During the inbound process, it is normally advised to place the item where the rest of the items are already located. However, you could also consider linking it to another location if that is more efficient. In some cases, this is not desirable and you may want to link an item to one specific location only, for example at the head of a certain rack where many pick paths start. That is, if it is an item that is ordered together with many orders, that would be an ideal location.
6. Use E-check add-on products
A similar, but perhaps even more interesting feature, is the use of add-on products at the packing table. A good example of this is a paint customer of ours who uses our WMS software. A stirrer is added to each order. If several orders come in consisting of 1 pot of paint and a stirrer, then of course it’s most efficient to pick all those single-line orders (the pots of paint) in bulk and to only add the stirrer at the packing table. The packing application then prompts you to scan the stirrer and add it to the order. Only after that is completed does the printer print the shipping label.
7. Separate the warehouse into picking zones
By dividing the warehouse into picking zones and only grouping items from a specific customer group or sales channel, you can create an optimal situation for yourself. You ensure that all orders from that channel or customer can be picked within that zone. Because of this, order pickers do not have to walk through the entire warehouse; they only need to be active within that specific picking zone. The order picker can easily select that specific zone for picking with the hand scanner.
See opposite an example of the hand scanner which allows you to click on different areas so you can view the open orders. You can then start picking within these areas.
8. Deploy ‘Relay Picking’
A similar function is the use of relay picking within the warehouse. With this function you pass an order to a colleague who is working on a different floor or zone. This is recommended when orders are spread across multiple zones or floors. The colleague can then take over the order in the hand scanner and complete the picking round on his floor or zone. This avoids the need for order pickers to walk throughout the warehouse. It is therefore much easier to divide up the work among the various employees in a structured way!
With the above actions, it is possible to significantly reduce walking distances in the warehouse. Would you like to have more information about this or would you like to see it in action in one of our own warehouses to get a better idea? Get in touch with us!